Magnetic scale inhibitors - do they work?

A: possibly yes. (Never thought I'd find myself saying that :-))
Took out a CW storage tank and HW cylinder yesterday and found a magnetic gizmo on the 15mm copper feed to the system. The storage tank had a very small amount of scale encrustation around the water level line. The cylinder had no evidence of _any_ limescale in the bottom (it was as light as a new one when I lifted it out (not quite one-handed, but not the usual hernia-inducing lugging/dragging one usually has to do).
This is in a hard-as-nails water area (Reading) where storage tanks often have sheets of limescale around the sides and bottom, and cylinders have half a builder's bag of limescale in the bottom.
Interestingly the last few litres of water (tipping the cylinder over to get out the liquid below the bottom inlet tapping) were a sort of brown sludge.
Someone had written on the magnetic gizmo that it was installed in 1993.
So there you go. I won't be fitting them to my installations: I need something that provably works, and for all I know there could be some completely different phenomenon at work here[1], or it may not work everywhere, and I can't afford to take chances with customers' installations.
But I'd be interested to know if others have similar - or contradictory - evidence. FWIW this unit was called an AQUAMAG and consists of two plastic blocks about 200mm long which clip together over a 15mm pipe, and (judging from the way a ferrous object is attracted to the blocks, and the two half-blocks attract and repel each other) seems to have 4 sets of magnets arranged thus
ASCII art <pre>
----------------------- | N----S----N----S----N | -------------------------------- p i p e -------------------------------- | S----N----S----N----S | -----------------------
[1] and no, there wasn't a water softener in the system, or any evidence of a bag-in-the-tank type scale inhibitor in the tank.
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YAPH http://yaph.co.uk

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We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the
something like:

But you never know - there could have been, for years.
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On Sat, 18 Oct 2008 00:57:46 +0100, Grimly Curmudgeon wrote:

There's no evidence of there ever having been a water softener, and I started working on this place when the new owners moved in 2-3 years ago and I'm pretty sure they hadn't touched the tanks, so hadn't removed any bag-in-tank inhibitor themselves. Maybe the previous owners took it with them ;-)
Incidentally one of the jobs I had to do for the current owners a year or 2 back was deal with a blockage in the feed pipe into the CH system. IIRC the pipe - about 2-3m of it - from the header tank down to where it joined the system was pretty solidly blocked and I replaced it with a length of plastic. Normally one gets a fairly localised plug of scale where the cold feed hits the hot water in the system but in this case the blockage extended some way back up the pipe. Maybe the brown sludge that I found in the HW cylinder had occurred in the feed pipe and solidified over some length of pipework.
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John Stumbles

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We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold. I remember John Stumbles

Does it have its own borehole, perhaps? Are you utterly sure it's getting the same chalky water as the other dwellings in the neighbourhood? I'm thinking if it's a farmhouse, odds on it's not on the mains anyway, as would be common around here; although borehole water around here is notoriously chalky, there are a few with soft water.
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On Sun, 19 Oct 2008 22:02:10 +0100, Grimly Curmudgeon wrote:

Nope, urban Reading, Thames Water straight out of the pipe from the street.
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YAPH http://yaph.co.uk

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Probably no IME. I had one in the feed to a flow boiler, which needed a new heat exchanger due to scaling within four years.
Colin Bignell
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On Sat, 18 Oct 2008 16:36:00 +0100, "nightjar" <cpb@ wrote:

Magnetic type similar to one I described or electrolytic, electromagnetic or what? I've descaled boilers with the latter types attached.
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YAPH http://yaph.co.uk

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YAPH wrote:

The only evidence I have seen of any scientific nature suggest that they may JUST stop scale forming in the immediate vicinity, but it will happen somewhere else for sure.
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On Sun, 19 Oct 2008 16:03:30 +0100, The Natural Philosopher wrote:

Indeed, but the odd thing was that this _seemed_[1] to have stopped scale precipitating out in the HW cylinder as well.
[1] my observation: magnetic gizmo fitted to pipe, no evidence of pukka scale inhibitor, no scale in tank or cylinder.
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YAPH http://yaph.co.uk

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Why would you think that a reply to a thread about magnetic scale inhibitors would not refer to magnetic scale inhibitors?
Colin Bignell
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On Sun, 19 Oct 2008 16:19:28 +0100, "nightjar" <cpb@ wrote:

Because we're all human and whether through ignorance, oversight or random noise in the CPU[1] may occasionally not process all the factors correctly. Also I asked if it was a magnetic type _similar to the one I described_ whereas the subject line just said magnetic scale inhibitors generally.
I take it that yours was similar to mine then, with 4 pairs of magnets arranged longitudinally in parallel to the pipe, rather than some other arrangement?
FWIW this corresponds to a Which? finding of many years ago that such devices seemed to work in some situations. Though with a sample size of two so far that's pretty thin even for Which? tests ;-)
[1] Cerebral Processing Unit
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As previously posted here, the building services manager at a place where I used to work installed them on the feeds to a set of industrial scale autoclaves - without telling anyone. He then stopped buying all those expensive industrial chemicals used to soften and condition the feedwater. Within two years he had rendered the autoclaves, or rather the steam generators feeding them, inoperable.
His arse didn't touch the ground as he left the factory.
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I will sell you one, and a magnet that improves gas milage, one that makes you younger, and a hydrogen converter for your car, and a air turbulance thingy you put in the intake all for 1$. But none works.
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Without another identical tank fed from an identical supply heated in an identical way, you don't really have any valid data at all, I'm afraid.
Ian
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On Wed, 22 Oct 2008 02:44:20 -0700, The Real Doctor wrote:

How "identical" would you want another tank (and cylinder) to be? And how accurately would you want the temperatures in the two set-ups to be controlled? Even in a designed-to-be-identical setup there would be some differences.
I'm comparing a grp storage tank fed by copper pipework from Thames Water's domestic supply, feeding a copper hot water cylinder heated by a domestic gas boiler on a gravity hot-water setup, with other such setups I've seen in the neighbourhood. I'm seeing a huge difference between the scaling in this one and the others and the only thing that I notice about this one that's not present in any of the others is the magnetic gizmo.
That doesn't mean it's the magnetic gizmo that accounts for the observed difference in scaling: as I indicated in my original post I might have missed something else. But it would be closed-minded to assume that it must be something else rather than the mag thingy, just because the mag things are often peddled by charlatans with no understanding of science and all too much understanding of human gullibility.
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It would be equally closed-minded to assume that it's not the proximity of a ley line to your house, or the feng shui of the kitchen, or a spell cast by a local witch, All of these things are just as likely to work as a couple of magnets, and until you've controlled for them you really can't tell if it's the magnets or not ...
Ian
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On Thu, 23 Oct 2008 13:26:16 -0700, The Real Doctor wrote:

OK, I suppose it all comes down to some sorts of prejudices as to what are "likely to work". Having a scientific/engineering background my prejudice is that a "normal" phenomenon like magnetism is more likely to have some, perhaps unexpected and non-intuitive, effect on limescale deposition than "paranormal" phenomena involving ley lines, feng shui or witchcraft. Your prejudices may be different, and it's entirely possible that one of your theories may turn out (if we ever get to the bottom of it) to be correct. My own position is that I would put money on it being magnetism rather than witchcraft, rather than that I would burn at the stake anyone advancing your suggestions.
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We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the
something like:

But if you had a banana stuck in your ear during the year preceding your discovery, you may conclude that the absence of ear bananas leads to limescale formation in your customers' water pipes. There's only one way to be sure - you must ask your customers to apply bananas forthwith, in the name of science.
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On Sat, 25 Oct 2008 12:26:02 +0100, Grimly Curmudgeon wrote:

Cue Graham Chapman in an army officer's uniform to step in and say "Stop this: it's getting silly!"
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YAPH http://yaph.co.uk

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And having done many years of research on applied magnetism, I'm pretty confident that ley lines are a more likely explanation for what you're seeing.
Ian
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